It is tempting to just skip the weekly Game Ball after the nightmare that was the Eagles game. But I don't really have that option (or at least I assume that is what Dave would tell me). I also know that the players would not be real excited about this (if they actually read BTB) since that game undoubtedly left a very nasty taste in their mouths. But someone is getting picked this week.
Of course, to award a Game Ball, there has to be something positive to award it for. There were three performances that I noticed, even amidst all the bumbling and failure, that do merit some recognition.
There is something else I want to mention first. There was one overall thing that came out of the game that did strike me as noteworthy. I was not sure, based solely on my own eyes, but after Kegbearer said he saw the same thing, I will second the motion. The team kept playing hard, even when there was nothing but pride to play for. I don't think the team will let this experience beat them down the way it would have early last season. The impression I get is that there is some spine in the team that was not so evident for a few years. This is one of those intangibles you can argue about endlessly, but I think it is one area where the Dallas Cowboys are getting better.
Nominees and the winner after the jump.
One player did have a very good game, but his contribution was largely irrelevant because of how fast the Eagles ran up the score and forced Dallas into a catch-up mode. That was last week's Game Ball winner, DeMarco Murray. He only had eight carries, but put up 74 yards rushing. If things had not gotten so out of hand so fast and taken the ball out of his hands, he almost certainly would have had over a hundred yards rushing. Even so, his 9.3 yards per carry average is another bit of evidence that he is a legitimate NFL running back.
Another player who had a good game because of what was happening elsewhere on the field was another past winner, Laurent Robinson. The Eagles effectively took the big three receivers, Miles Austin, Jason Witten, and Dez Bryant, out of the game, leaving Laurent as the only option left for Tony Romo. He caught five passes for 103 yards including the 70-yard touchdown that provided a tiny bit of salve to the Cowboys' pride. Plus, he had a circus catch that was overturned, rightly, on replay. The more games he is in, the more signing him looks like a smart move. It is nice to have a reliable 3rd wide receiver.
Cris Collingsworth made a comment during the broadcast about the man who gets the ball this week. He said it was the quietest four-sack performance he had ever seen in the NFL. DeMarcus Ware played hard the entire game and was the only bright spot on defense. He now has 12 sacks for the season, second only to the Vikings' Jared Allen, who has 12.5 with one more game played. Collingsworth also said that Ware pretty much already has Hall of Fame credentials, with six consecutive years of double digit sacks, and a legitimate chance to match or beat Michael Strahan's 22.5 sacks/season record. Perhaps Bruce Smith's career total of 200 is within reach, since DeMarcus' game has not shown any signs of fading yet.
Even though the Eagles were able to game plan to neutralize DWare, he still got to Vick, and he also led the team in tackles. DeMarcus is frequently called the best 3-4 OLB in the league, and with good reason. So for putting up some good numbers, and more importantly for playing hard even when things were out of hand, DeMarcus gets the Game Ball of the Week.